The New Silk Road: Mediators and Tourism Development in Central Asia
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Within the past century, international tourists have increasingly sought exotic destinations in their pursuit of relaxation, escape, and adventure. Recognizing the opportunity to earn valuable foreign currency, developing countries have catered to these desires by encouraging tourism development. The interplay between "hosts" and "guests" and the impact of tourism on host communities have been recurring themes in the anthropological literature on tourism, but scholars recognize that these categories have several limitations. The terms gloss over the wide variation that exists in the tourist experience for both guests and hosts, and ignore the important actors known as mediators. This article examines the role of mediators in two post-Soviet Central Asia states: Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Mediators there are particularly important because neither country is well known in Western countries, and neither country inherited a well-developed tourist infrastructure from the Soviet state. These mediators are cultivating a positive image of Central Asia as a new tourist destination, developing tourist accommodations, and lobbying government institutions to support and regulate tourism. However, the industry is rife with conflict and competition. (Tourism, development, Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan).
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